New law enforcement tool finds sex offenders at local malls

For years, online registries have allowed people to search for sex offenders near their home, but now the Marion County Sheriff’s Department is using new technology to see where sex and other violent offenders go when they’re not at home.

A $500,000 federal grant has enabled the sheriff’s department to equip four vehicles with highly sensitive cameras that capture and process license plate information. The grant also funds overtime needed to patrol high traffic areas like schools, parks and malls.

“Whenever we pass by a vehicle it will beep to me,” said CPL Brad Allen, pointing to the computer in his Marion County Sheriff’s Department cruiser. “That means that it’s been read.”

Allen showed Fox59 how the cameras work even while driving at high speeds. They also run license plate information through law enforcement databases in real time, checking for expired licenses plates, outstanding warrants and registered sex offenders.

“It’s helped out tremendously,” Allen said.

“One plate reader device has the capability of reading up to 100 license plates per minute,” said Captain Michael Hubbs with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. “So I don’t know if you could have enough man power to ever do that.”

During a special holiday shopping enforcement in December, deputies patrolling mall areas used the cameras to find cars belonging to 73 registered six offenders along with 42 people wanted on warrants associated with vehicles. The new technology also led directly to one felony arrest for a sex offender violation.

Hubbs said that the discrepancy between sex offenders and arrests is because some may not be barred from malls. Still, he said the technology allows law enforcement to keep tabs on them and that even one arrest is significant.

“I’d say absolutely it’s worth it because the arrest speaks for itself,” said Captain Hubbs. “Who knows what that person could have been up to?”

For Corporal Allen, it’s helping him keep better tabs on the 1,500 registered sex offenders in Marion County every single day.

“I check all the schools to make sure that there’s no sex offenders there,” Allen said.

41 comments

  • guest65

    The Philadelphia Parking Authority has this technology to catch people with too many tickets, how is it that a regular police department doesn't already have this and needs a grant in order to obtain it?

    • ClanSmokeJaguar

      Because the PPA has turned unpaid vehicular fines into an industry and the purchase of their cameras came from "corporate" revenues from their business.

  • rwsmom

    We need to stop the hysteria around those who are registered. 500,000. would have helped a bunch of children in education and with food and other needs. The registry is over bloated with individuals who pose no harm to society. The only thing the registry is good for is creating hate and fear towards families and children whose addresses are listed for the public and vigilantes. More children are harmed, harrased and riduled DUE TO THESE LAWS, than they protect!
    I would also like to point out that the article did NOT say the 42 arrests werel on the registry! As a matter of fact, only ONE was! Registrants are allowed to go to the mall!
    Get your reporting straight FOX59! Report the truth and quit trying to deceive the public! The recidivism rates of those on the registry is 1.05%! (The lowest of all offenses other than murder, whom happen to have long sentences if freed at all!) Ask yourselves, Indiana….why are we allowing these tax dollars to be wasted like this? Our children desrve better! ALL children do! Including the children who have a loved one on the registry! WAKE UP Indiana!!!!!

    • ClanSmokeJaguar

      So your husband or son must be on the list I take it?

      >recidivism rates of those on the registry is 1.05%

      Source that please!

      oh…and you said:

      >500,000. would have helped a bunch of children in education and with food and other needs.

      MArginally if at all…at best.

      • rwsmom

        google indiana recidivism rates, this is DOC's own report to the state of Indiana! http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pd
        First column after the graph…….
        "In addition, one statistic regarding a class of offenders shows a great deal of promise. The
        recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in
        the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements
        that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and
        residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment
        of a new sex crime is extremely low."

      • ClanSmokeJaguar

        Sorry babe but a multi-paragraphed summary isn't enough for me to believe this.

        Sooo much was left out of this including what the study decided what "Recidivism" is. Are they including people who are charged? People who violate parole? People who are tried but not convicted or only those people who wind up going through the judicial system and then locked up?

        On another note, considering the weekly barrage of child predators, even 1.05 percent is too much.

      • rudy101

        Well, you could read the study. Well, that would require an open mind. Sorry.

        BUT, I did. "The IDOC defines recidivism as an offender’s return to incarceration within 3 years of their release date from a state correctional institution.]"

        "overall recidivism rate has declined for the third consecutive year to 37.4%."

        "The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. "

        So, let's see, there is about a 35x higher rate for those returning to prison after 3 years for non-sex offenders.

        But don't worry, it is a perfect justification to creating more registries and stripping more people of their freedom. All you need is outrage and a vote and society has just gotten started in destroying thier Constitutional freedoms.

    • JIllSmith

      Plus, just because a vehicle with the offenders name associated with it in a certain location, does not mean the registrant is there. A registrant has to list all vehicles that they drive regularly. This could be the registrants family member that is at the mall.

  • blah blah

    Yep your right …..our childern deserve better …..they deserve to not be raped, killed, beaten or even harrassed by these people….do all sex offenders prey on childern or are even violent or deserve to be made to register probably not but as far as the police scanning plates….if it even protects one child from a violent/nonviolent sex offender then have at it! The innocence of a child is easily lost and the damage that is done never fully heals.

  • rwsmom

    Yes Blah Blah you're correct. Damage done to children can be harmful for a long time. Including those children of over 750,000 people on the registry. Do the math, that's a LOT more children than the named laws were written to protect. And oh, by the way, the children that are harmed, statistics PROVE that 98.95% of them won't be from a registrant on the registry in Indiana! Further, statistics also prove that 90-95% of all children abused, neglected or sexually harmed are from family members or close friends. NOT strangers and definately not those on a registry! Our children deserve better! You're right! They deserve to be raised by intellectual adults that know the TRUTH!

  • ShellyStow

    The sad thing is that these sorts of activities, rather than making children safer, actually put them at continued risk. Children are sexually assaulted by those they know: their family members, their peers, and authority figures in their lives, people who are not on a registry. Every dollar spent focusing on registrants who have already offended and are statistically highly unlikely to do so again is a dollar not spent on the things shown to make children safer for now and for the future: education, awareness, and prevention programs; victim and family services; and meaningful rehabilitation and re-entry programs for those who have offended. There is much that can be done to help make children safer. So far we aren't doing any of it, and as long as every penny goes to the registry, we won't; there's no money left with which to do it.

  • rudy101

    “I’d say absolutely it’s worth it because the arrest speaks for itself,” said Captain Hubbs. “Who knows what that person could have been up to?”

    What does that mean? You arrested someone for a NON-crime? Is this what the sex offender registry is for? To arrest people for having the status of sex offender?

    The sex offender registry is DANGEROUS to be on. It allows the State to arbitrarily arrest for "crimes" that have no criminal intent. Do you think walking in a park is a crime? Going to your own child's school is a crime? Taking a picture at a birthday party is a crime? Living in the community is a crime? Inherently they are not UNLESS a court says it is and why. Free societies are not allowed to make normal conduct criminal without DUE PROCESS.

    All of those laws are ex-post facto laws applied without hearing, long after sentences are over and applied to even the most innocuous of crimes.

    Who would register under these conditions?

    I will tell you now, I do not register and especially will not register under these conditions. I have a RIGHT to go to a Mall, without fear of harassment. I have a right to walk in a park, or to take photos of the community UNLESS a court specifically tells me I cannot and articulates why I cannot.

    Police States set up by legislative fiat are illegal, and always have been. Sorry for your registry, but it is being laughed at!

  • Chuck N.

    Half a million dollars for one sex offender and they call it worth it. You have got to be kidding. There isn't even any restrictions against a sex offender being at a mall, the grocery store, the hospital, the doctor's office, restaurants or a multitude of other every day places in American life. As of yet they haven't outlawed the existance of "Free" sex offenders, but as is witnessed by this story they sure try to scare the freedom out of them and even those who have committed no crimes, but patron the area malls. This story says there are 1500 registered sex offenders in Marion County. Most of us probably see one without knowing it most every day. Are we or even our kids attacked by one every day? Half a million dollars to arrest one sex offender who's crime was most likely only the violation of one of a multitude of the rules sex offenders have to live by on a registry that makes it very difficult to find housing or meaningful employment for a lot of offenders who are trying to find a way to make it, because they to have families to support just like non offenders. The registry also harm the spouses and children of those on the registry by subjecting them to taunts of acquaintences and classmates. It's a very sad state of affairs for those affected by this collateral damage. We all deserve better from a first rate state.

  • Dolley

    It is extremely scary that people actually believe this is intelligence at its best. As a parent, I care more about where and what MY child is doing rather than knowing where a sex offender is, because a person capable of committing a heinous crime could be anywhere…what a waste of taxpayers money!

  • tod

    The better story here would have been that law enforcement now has the ability to be made aware when they are in the vicinity of a vehicle whose owner has warrants, or that is wanted for questioning, or that has been tagged by an amber alert. However, the media never misses an opportunity to insert the phrase 'sex offender' into any story. It makes for better ratings.

  • SMH

    Most people that are on the registry ARE NOT child molesters! Most of them have just made stupid mistakes and slept with an under age girl/boy, but the state of Indiana has them register for being charged with sexual misconduct with a minor??? I think its bull crap, if you haven't "molested" or "raped" anyone child then you shouldn't have to register. And since they do have to, I think the teens that get mad and rat on people need to get some type of punishment too!

  • cogitoergosum

    Wow. Just wow! Where to begin?

    “I’d say absolutely it’s worth it because the arrest speaks for itself,” – the arrest, singular. $500k. Considered worth it. For one arrest. For a crime for which punishment was served in the past.

    “Who knows what that person could have been up to?” – Uhmmm, Christmas shopping? Perhaps for his children, who may have had to spend Christmas with their father incarcerated? For a crime for which he finished serving his punishment in the past?

    "used the cameras to find cars belonging to 73 registered six offenders" – okay? Then what? Did they seek out these 73 people in the crowded mall? To do what? Wish them a Merry Christmas? How do they know it was not the registrant's spouse or kids or buddy driving the car?

    Don't these people have anything better to do? While I do not live in Indiana I am now worried that this goes on in my state with my taxes!!!

    And then the writer: "some may not be barred from malls". Where does that come from? Does anyone read what they write anymore?

    This is so disturbing on so many levels….

  • cass blaine

    Ok Fox, since like most media you simply parrot whatever the cops tell you without bothering to ask any questions, are you saying that sex offenders can't visit malls? How about grocery stores or maybe gas stations? Restaurants perhaps? These are the only people who, when they obey the law, are persecuted by the cops, politicians and the media. There is no law preventing sex offenders from visiting malls so why do you make it seem as if they are breaking a law that does not exist?

    Just another let's scare the public using bogus fears of sex offenders so the cops can get more money and you people can get viewers. How about doing some research for a change and report the facts: sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rate of any criminal and that almost all cases of sexual assault are committed by someone the victim knows not a stranger. But gee, that might get in the way of a good story would it not?

  • cass blaine

    Ok Fox, since like most media you simply parrot whatever the cops tell you without bothering to ask any questions, are you saying that sex offenders can't visit malls? How about grocery stores or maybe gas stations? Restaurants perhaps? These are the only people who, when they obey the law, are persecuted by the cops, politicians and the media. There is no law preventing sex offenders from visiting malls so why do you make it seem as if they are breaking a law that does not exist?

    • rudy101

      What is being done is a foundation is being built to further isolate people on the list so that later on, new laws can be enacted.

  • Valigator

    No surprise the Sex offender "minutemen" showed up ..I bet you guys went nuts reading this one. Some of the above posters bombard forums looking to throw their two cents in "hoping to change the tide of opinion" of the public. They dont tell you they are either offenders or banging offenders and only log in to forums that profile tightening the noose on their pathetic throats. Not once will you see them contribute or take the time to post a comment on some repeat poor excuse for DNA that tore a families world apart yesterday, they cant be botherd with that. I say "Good" these guys need a short leash and I am in agreement..

    • rudy101

      No, Valigator, you can't change the tide of public opinion when it comes to these types of laws against a legislatively created list of the so-called, evil ones. That is why it is so important to ensure that there are proper procedures in place so that the wrong type of people are not on a registry.

      It is all about LIMITED government OR Checks and Balances.

      I make comments on the stories where a person re-offended all the time. I ask important questions on HOW can these things be avoided.

      You even admit the registry doesn't lessen re-offense levels. In Florida a study was just done that shows the laws in place have an inverse effect on re-offense levels.

      See, you want THEM on a short leash, but only have a vague understanding of who THEM are (and don't much care). The problem becomes when a person doesn't fit your stereotype of offender.

      The world has changed, Valigator. It does matter WHO goes on that list AND it does matter that there be processes to challenge or appeal restrictions that were put on without hearing and without consideration to individual circumstances.

      But you already know all that. YOU, yourself have played judge with the list, as you cut breaks to those you believe don't deserve the community's wrath and go after those you believe do.

      It is that kind of arbitrary decision making by the community that renders the registry useless and illegal.

      These things belong in a court of law where rational restrictions can be placed on people according to circumstances. And without those things, YOU getting the list and making decisions or determinations based upon it render that list, as a matter of law, illegal.

  • rudy101

    Oh, everyone just remember. They have this new technology and they are telling you about how they use it for those evil sex offenders, while at the same time they are scanning all the license plates.

    It is not only sex offenders they can "monitor", but EVERYONE (which is exactly what they are doing).

    All you need to do is scan all plates every day and cross-reference it and they can have a profile on what EVERYONE is doing. It is not so hard to do, is it? As they so well explained in the article.

    • ClanSmokeJaguar

      EXACTLY rudy101! Bravo and thank you for taking the time to read the article and fully comprehend it.

      Jeese! These other mofos obviously need someone more capable of reading comprehension to help them read these articles…like your garden variety 4th grader!

      lol

  • ClanSmokeJaguar

    You people who undoubtedly are on the offender list or have a husband or son on the list are idiots.

    Clearly the article said the tool can catch people with expired warrants and other illegalities. Catching sex offenders where they ought not be is just another benefit of the tool.

    As they say in the south, "The hit dog hollers"

    Woooooooo! lol…

    • rudy101

      I left the offender list some years ago. I had to. The only thing it was doing was creating chaos in my life. That is now over, and I became a productive member of society.

      I will never go on the list again and nobody can make me.

      • anonymous

        Dude, the only way you can never go on the list again is by not comitting a new sex crime. Going on the list is not an option you can choose not to do. lol

      • rudy101

        Then I would suggest you go and call the police and tell them to ask the court for some DUE PROCESS, because I am laughing at your laws and the registry.

        That is the problem with your registry. You all really believe you can put together this hit and harassment list, specifically require non-dangerous people to be on it, then have total chaos in a person's life and you think it has to be followed.

        Are you ridiculous? What kind of society do you think you have? A democracy? You don't. It is a Constitutional Republic where certain rights are guarenteed. ONE of those RIGHTS is the right to live in peace.

        If you can't find THAT in the Constitution, then don't think you are a free country and THAT only makes my case stronger.

  • Anonymous

    This is a complete waste of taxpayer money. There is no law that says sex offenders cannot go to a mall.

    The main problem with this article is that it reinforces the idea that all sex offenders are child molestors which naturally gets everyone in an uproar that there may be pedophiles lurking around the mall to kidnap one of your babies. Sensationalism sells news. The TRUTH is, your child is in more danger when s/he is around Uncle Joe, mama’s new boyfriend or the nice fella down the street.

    How do I know this? No, I am not on the registry, I WORK for the registry so I pretty much have the facts correct.

    I’m not saying the registry is a bad thing. For the most part it works well. But there are many on the registry who do not deserve to be there. We even have a few registrants who are now married to their “victims” and that is just wrong. Unfortunately, those people suffer harassment for being on the registry too. (True pedophiles and rapists deserve the harassment as far as I am concerned).

    Sad that so much money was spent for such a useless tool.

    • rudy101

      Nope, they can't and your own words show that. Harassment cannot be an outcome of laws that are not supposed to be punitive. In fact, threats, harassment, isolation and fear are the only outcomes of the sex offender registry.

      NOW, you understand why it won't be followed? I'll add on ex-post facto and no due process too.

  • Abe S.

    It is no surprise that this Valigator loser shows her useless face in support of such a moronic article. Valigator, please move out of the U.S., loser.

    Don't get me wrong, license plate readers are a great law enforcement tool and I think a good idea. As long as they aren't abused. But this article is moronic because it just had to say "sex offender". I guess they need some viewers. Law enforcement is moronic too if they think the main use of the license plate readers could be for "sex offenders". The moronic "sex offender" witch hunt needs to end. All people have to say is "sex offender" and people lose their brains.

    As far as "sex offenders" go, this tool will be just as effective as the registries and the rest of the "sex offender" laws aren't. It won't be. It will harass and punish the vast majority of people on the registries and do less than nothing to prevent anything from happening.

    People who want to commit crimes are quite aware of these license plate readers. If a registered person wants to hop down to a mall to do something bad, then he/she will just take a bus. Or use any of 20 other ways to go around it. In the meantime, the spouses and children of registered people will be driving registered cars and the police will be following them around, looking for them, waiting for them in parking lots, etc., etc., etc. I've seen how this works in practice and it is an extreme waste of time. The one thing that it does allow law enforcement to do and what they do do, is harass people who are in registered cars. That is the main use of targeting registered cars.

  • anon

    There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:12

  • bob searcy

    we are being tracked everywhere we go and its getting steadily worse. this is a sensationalist story baited with the words " child sex offender " on every line. i feel like the whole country has become a concentration camp where our lawmakers exploit our labor and sustenance and sell it to the highest bidder..

  • blah

    this is an invasion of privaxy eerious privacy the police will know everyones move. and yes its showing sex offender to sell the story seriously people need education not scare tactics.

  • anon

    last i checked it is not illegal for someone on the registry to go shopping at christmas…this is more insanity from our government. wait until the gun registry starts….will they be scanning plates to see if you are a gun owner and then arrest you because they thought you might be carrying a weapon into a shopping mall? slippery slopes are always dangerous and we should always error on the side of individual liberties and constitutional rights! the other way leads to nothing more than tyranny!

  • Guest

    This is not right. They are using the hate for sex offenders to get this technology which will eventually be used on former alcoholics, gun owners, people with mental health issues, former burglars – in other words it will be used for harrassement.

    Secondly, what if an offender is riding in a car not their own? How does this help? What if they took a bus, walked or worse, what if their wife or kids borrowed the car?

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